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Quartararo looking for return to form at San Marino MotoGP

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ITALY: After three disappointing races, Fabio Quartararo (pix) returns to Misano for this weekend’s San Marino Grand Prix hoping to consolidate his slender lead at the head of the MotoGP standings.

With six-time champion Marc Marquez still out of action as he recovers from a broken arm he suffered in the opening race, Quartararo goes into the weekend with a three-point lead in the standings ahead of Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso.

The 21-year-old Frenchman finished second here last year behind Marquez and went on to finish fifth in his rookie year.

“Misano is one of my favourite circuits because it has a little bit of everything, slow corners, fast corners and switching from left to right,” said Quartararo who rides for the Yamaha satellite team.

“I’m curious to see how it works with the new asphalt and if the conditions will have changed a lot since last year.”

There will be 10,000 spectators at the Marco Simoncelli circuit to see if the flying Frenchman can rediscover his throttle.

Quartararo won the opening two rounds in Jerez but has failed to reach make the podium since, allowing Dovizioso and the Ducatis as well as the Suzukis, KTMs and the other Yamahas to close the gap.

Dovi ‘disappointment’

Much of the emotional support will be for the 34-year-old “Dovi” who has suffered more than most for riding in the Marquez era, having finished the last three seasons as championship runner-up to one of the all-time greats.

The Italian announced last month he was leaving Ducati after eight seasons in the saddle but Paolo Ciabatti said this week that the team was still focused on delivering the title.

“Obviously it is a disappointment but at the moment we are focussed on the championship and 2020,” he told GPOne.com.

“There will be time eventually for any regrets but now we have an important chance to fight for the championship and we need to be focused on that.”

Whether it will be treated as a genuine championship remains open for discussion with two-time former champion Casey Stoner casting doubt on its validity.

“Calling it a world championship is a little bit difficult this year,” the Australian told a GPOne podcast.

“You’re racing two races at the same circuit and if the selection of the circuits suits somebody it really is a big benefit to do that.”

Next week’s Emilia Romagna GP will take place on the same circuit at Misano.

Replacement

Ducati could use this weekend to announce Dovizioso’s replacement. They have already said Australian Jack Miller, currently in their Pramac satellite team and third in the championship, will take over from Danilo Petrucci.

The other Pramac rider, the Italian Francesco Bagnaia, is in the frame to replace “Dovi” as is Frenchman Johann Zarco, who races for the satellite team Avintia.

Jorge Martin, currently third in the Moto2 championship, has also featured in discussion as a replacement for Miller but the Spaniard will be absent from Misano after testing positive for coronavirus.

Elsewhere in the pitlane, Yamaha are scratching their heads as 41-year-old Valentino Rossi, in spite of a podium at the Andalusian GP, looks a spent force while Maverick Vinales has yet to transfer his undoubted speed in practice into victories.

He began the season with a pair of seconds behind Quartararo but has been ineffective since, not finishing in the Styrian GP when he had to jump off his bike at 210km/h (130mph) after its brakes failed.

He is fifth in the title race, 22 points off the lead, but will take some comfort from his third place here last year.

AFP

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